As governor Chiz bares his plans for Sorsogon

By Celso Amo

LEGAZPI CITY --- With the presentation of his gubernatorial slate in the province of Sorsogon last week and baring his plans for the province, Senator Chiz Escudero formally announced that he is running for governor under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

The Bicolano senator presented the entire slate of Team Chiz with Manuel “Wowo” Fortes as vice governor, his mother re-electionist Congresswoman Evelina Escudero for the first district and Ma. Bernardita “Ditas” Ramos as congressional candidate for the second district. The team also includes five board member candidates for the first district and another five board members candidates for the second district.

Escudero, whose term as senator expires in 2019, said he is running for governor to provide collective connection, expertise and experience to make Sorsogon as one of the top ten progressive provinces in the country through effective governance.

“This run is about giving back to my roots, to my province after competing my term and experience in legislation at the Senate.”

He said he will focus his efforts to improve tourism, livelihood and health.

“I’ve been going around the province and health was a top problem and it was also the main complaint among Sorsogonons,” he said.

He said health services are still lacking.

“Maybe it was not given sufficient attention or funds,” he explained.

But Escudero said he is confident to improve health services.

“We are confident to do it and this is the first reason why I want to run for governor--to show that it can be done.”

“Second, I want to show that the present health care standard and services can still be improved so in the coming years those who will follow us can see it was done.”

“This is what we will do in the coming years in Sorsogon,” he added.

Once Team Chiz is in office, Escudero said he will apply the best practices he learned in Congress and the Senate to come up with a smooth relation between the legislative and the executive branches to pass and review ordinances down to the municipalities.

“Our vision will be supported by members of the provincial board through legislation and policy- making.”

He also said that board members can serve as focal persons for faster interaction with the executive and the legislative after he saw it was very necessary at the national level.

He also said that an airport is not yet necessary in Sorsogon for its tourism program.

“Many rich people in Sorsogon are angry at me about the airport,” he said.

“But my question to them is very simple: who will ride the planes and land at the airport,” said Escudero.

He said he can easily write a letter to Cebu Pacific, Philippine Air Lines or Asian Spirit because these air carriers have no flights in Sorsogon.

The Bicol International Airport being constructed at Barangay Alobo in Daraga, Albay will be operational two to three years from now.

“You might just laugh at us to have an airport where there are no passengers and only private planes can land.”

He said air traffic at present are in the cities of Legazpi and Naga.

“But when the time comes that there will be more traffic in Sorsogon then I will see to it we will have an operational airport also.”

He said he will not allow any structures to be put up at the Bulan airport which has an 19 inches thick runway and was constructed at the cost of P15M.

“I will not allow any structures there so when the time comes that it will be needed we have one and it is still there,” he added.

Instead of constructing an airport, Escudero said he will connect all the barangays in the province.

“We are implementing a road widening project such as the construction of coastal roads through the DONPICASO project or the Donsol, Pilar,Castilla,Sorsogon road network.”

He said it will be constructed around Sorsogon Bay up to Casiguran, Juban, Magallanes, and Bulan.

“We have already entered it as a multi-year obligation allotment so it will push through even if we are no longer around,” he added.

On the plan to connect Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Samar through a bridge, Escudero said that if it will push through, it will be the longest bridge in the country and the top twenty longest bridges in Asia.

It will be about 25 kilometers and costs about P26B which the government cannot afford [at present].

“The government does not have the funds for this but it can be done through private sector initiative,” said Escudero.

He said San Miguel Corp and Metro Pacific are now studying the proposal as a public-private partnership project (PPP) or build-operate and transfer (BOT) which are the only chances to put up this bridge.

“Roughly a billion per kilometer due to the depth of the location where ships or international vessels pass.”

“So this bridge will be constructed so the ships can also pass and the construction will take about three years and the implementation roughly ten years,” he added.